3 user 12 critic

Birthday (2015)

1:25 | Trailer
A severely wounded Marine and his wife finally come home following months of surgeries and rehab. A powerful and realistic depiction of what it is like for our wounded vets and their spouses as they face enormously difficult times ahead.


Chris King
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Mandy Moody ... Wife
Chris Gouchoe ... Marine
Eric Wheeler ... Doctor
Matt Saculla Matt Saculla ... Combat Marine 1
Quincy Moreland Quincy Moreland ... Combat Marine 2
Ryan Havner Ryan Havner ... Combat Marine 3
Ben Friedrich Ben Friedrich ... Combat Marine 4
Aaron Leong Aaron Leong ... Combat Marine 5
Jacqueline Calkin Jacqueline Calkin ... Surgeon
Jesse Cottle Jesse Cottle ... Wounded Marine
Kelly Cottle Kelly Cottle ... Rehab Nurse
Josh Hotaling Josh Hotaling ... Wounded Marine
Brittany Parsons Brittany Parsons ... Wounded Soldier
Robert Downey Robert Downey ... Wounded Soldier
David Lambert David Lambert ... Wounded Soldier


A severely wounded Marine and his wife finally come home following months of surgeries and rehab. A powerful and realistic depiction of what it is like for our wounded vets and their spouses as they face enormously difficult times ahead.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama | Romance | War



Official Sites:

Official site | Official site





Release Date:

27 March 2015 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Sacramento, California, USA


Box Office


$8,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Watermark Films (II) See more »
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Technical Specs



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User Reviews

Speaks loudest when it is silent – surprisingly moving but yet not sentimental
26 May 2015 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

With sparse dialogue, this film charts the medium-term life of a young couple whose lives change dramatically when the husband is badly wounded while serving overseas with the marines. With hearing, both legs, and one arm lost to an IAD, many months of rehab and readjustment lie ahead. With such a subject, and with this being an American film, you would be forgiven for expecting this to be a rather overblown emotional affair; it is a comment pitfall, perhaps fuelled by the meaningless "support the troops" propaganda combined with the guilt that often "support" is lacking when it comes to them returning home – leading to such subjects being rather forcefully delivered since they carry a much needed and important message. However Birthday is better than that, delivering in a much more controlled manner.

This is not to say it is not moving, because it is, but it is much more focused and folded in, and less about big emotional scenes, flag-waving, or point-making. Instead it is about the wife and the marine (we never are told their names), and the impact on them – but particularly on her. The majority of the film plays out under typically ambient but emotive music from Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi and his partner Alex. This music sets the tone well, creating a sense of emotion but never spilling into being manipulative. The lack of dialogue allows the cast to play out many small moments within a montage approach; this has the downside of perhaps being a bit obvious a device, but it does mean less pressure to have a narrative structure to create all these moments within. Within this approach it is Mandy Moody that really makes it work. Gouchoe is strong too, but Moody really delivers a sense of real emotional struggle – the feeling of someone who carries sadness and loss even when she is happy with progress; of someone struggling to love the person while also hating what happened to them and what it means for their lives. I found it really overwhelming to be put into her mindset and feelings for the short film's duration – and it was Moody that made that happen.

The direction is strong through with a very natural "documentary" look to the short. I was not totally sold on the montage approach, but it is well edited together with only some touches that I thought pushed the emotion in a way that it really did not need help with. It is a very strong short though, the use of music and the controlled yet moving approach pays off, and in particular Moody delivers an emotive and emotional performance to really explain it to the viewer in a way that works much better than long dialogue sequences could.

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